Characteristics Of The Belgian Shepherd
As a native herding dog, which in addition to protecting livestock was also responsible for protecting the farmer and their belongings, the Belgian Shepherd still has all the valuable qualities of a guardian for homes and farms. He is attentive, lively, and always ready to defend his herd. Due to his strong protective instinct, he instinctively takes responsibility for everything and everyone in his home. Those with a Belgian Shepherd at home don’t have to worry about thieves.
However, this brave quadruped is not suitable for fearful or insecure people. The Belgian Shepherd needs a human companion of his own kind who can direct his temperamental nature with great poise, empathy, and consequence. To avoid unpleasant surprises, you need to control your protective instinct from the beginning. Professional education and good socialization are essential for a harmonious coexistence with this intelligent guardian.
The Personality of the Belgian Shepherd
Consistent and loving guidance is as important as the physical and mental entertainment of the furry. It is essential to consider the enormous momentum of movement and work of this Belgian energy ball. When this is not considered, the purebred dog develops unpleasant behaviors and sometimes tends to be too aggressive.
To compensate for this, in addition to training as a working dog for the police, customs, or rescue service, dog sport is a good option. This playful and agile quadruped gets excited about almost all sports. Thanks to his great jumping ability, speed, and extraordinary climbing abilities, he achieves remarkable performances, especially agility.
However, the Belgian Shepherd not only stands out for its sporting achievements and alertness. His inexhaustible energy and desire to learn are also very remarkable. Thanks to his great intelligence and willingness to learn new things, he is an exemplary student who wants to please his teacher in all areas. Its docile nature and being close to humans are beneficial for its education.
Excessive severity is inappropriate and unnecessary with this sensitive dog. With love, patience, and time for joint (sporting) activities, this attentive herding dog becomes a loyal and reliable family dog that will always remain faithful to its loved ones.
types of Belgian Shepherd
In general, the nature of all Belgian Shepherds is quite similar. However, their appearance is so different that it is sometimes difficult to believe that the different types belong to the same race. The current breed standard of the FCI (Federation Cynologique Internationale), in which the Belgian Shepherd is recognized under number 15 in group number 1 (Sheepdogs and Cattle Dogs), in Section 1 (Sheepdogs), defines the breed in four varieties. In principle, they differ in length, growth direction, and coat color.
- The Malinois: The Malinois is the most popular type of this breed and the one that physically most resembles the German Shepherd. Its short coat is carbon red, except for the mask, which is black. Charcoal means that some hairs have black tips, which gives the lighter base color a shading.
- The Laekenois: The oldest representative of the breed, but the least common today is the Laekenois. It is also short-haired and red like the Malinois, but its coat is rough. The hair is hard and dry to the touch and has a sloppy appearance. Nonetheless, this fearless look is desired.
- The Tervueren: the tone of the Tervuren’s coat is reminiscent of that of the Malinois: red and charcoal gray with a black mask. However, the hair is longer and therefore belongs, together with the groenendael, to the long-haired subspecies of this breed.
- The Groenendael: the Groenendael, also long-haired, is the only one with completely black fur.
As in the other varieties, a little white is tolerated on the sill and legs. The four have in common an elegant and proud appearance. Above all, the Tervueren and the groenendael, both long-haired, are almost majestic. On the one hand, this is due to their light complexion, which despite its size, never seems bulky, and on the other, to their fine head, which they always wear high.
Contrary to their relatives, German Shepherds, representatives of the Belgian breed, are more delicate and short. While the German variant has a rather rectangular body, the Belgian Shepherd has an almost square build when viewed from the side. Its walk is also less wide than that of the German shepherd. However, they surpass them in speed, agility, and jumping ability.
Origin And History Of The Belgian Shepherd
Speed and agility already characterized the ancestors of Belgian shepherds, who were initially kept exclusively as working dogs of shepherds and peasants. Until the end of the 19th century, there were many herding and cattle dogs in Belgium, which crossed uncontrollably with each other despite their different appearance. The main objective of rural farming was its suitability for work.
It wasn’t until 1891 that the newly founded Brussels Sheepdog Club ended these uncontrolled conditions. An early standard subdivided Belgian Shepherd into three different types concerning their coat: rough, short, and long hair.
In the history of the Belgian Shepherd, there have always been fights between breeders over the colors and varieties allowed. Up to the four types recognized today, with Belgian place names, the coat variants changed again and again in the last hundred years. As controversial as the appearance of the coat was, breeders of Belgian Shepherds agreed as to character, morphology, and fitness for use. In nature and physique, the breed has remained true to itself from the beginning.
Dutch Shepherd Differentiation:
Belgian Shepherds share the complexion and appearance of the Dutch Shepherd originally from the Netherlands. Although the brindle coat is also allowed in the Dutch neighbor and is not classified into different varieties, in general, the sheepdogs of both countries are identical. This is because the two come from the same area and were only recognized as independent breeds after Belgium’s separation from the Netherlands.
Breeding and health of the Belgian Shepherd
Since the standardization of the breed of dogs, it is no longer allowed to cross the different variants with each other. Therefore, breeders usually focus on only one type: Malinois, Laekenois, Tervueren, or Groenendael. The first is the most widespread. However, the Belgian Shepherd, unlike the German Shepherd, is a rare breed. In other words, finding a responsible breeder in your region is not so easy.
But this also has its positive side because due to its reduced expansion, the Belgian Shepherd is a very healthy breed of dog with few typical breed diseases. Although epilepsy or elbow dysplasia occasionally occurs, the dreaded hip dysplasia, which occurs in almost all breeds of dogs of this size, very rarely affects these furry dogs.
However, Belgian Shepherds can also develop diseases, so you should always observe your quadruped well to recognize behavioral and physical changes in time. These may indicate a disease that may require veterinary treatment.
Don’t worry. To recognize infections and diseases in time, you don’t need to check your dog for hours. With regular care of your dog, you are doing a lot for his health. Frequently brushing the fur, trimming the nails, or cleaning the teeth and ears, in addition to preventing many infections, serves to entertain you with your furry and observe it well. Therefore, changes in the texture of its coat, bald or inflamed areas on the skin, or large changes in the weight you notice immediately when you take care of it.
In general, maintaining this breed does not require excessive effort. However, coat care can vary greatly depending on the different types. For example, Malinois and Laekenois should be brushed once a week. Instead, the groenendael and Tervueren need to be combed more than once a week due to their dense and long hair. This should be intensified, especially during the molting seasons, which are twice a year. However, the coat does not generally tend to mat, even on long-haired dogs, and, unlike other long-haired dogs, it is quite easy to care for.
As with all furry dogs, regular monitoring and care of the ears, eyes, teeth, and gums are essential for this dog breed. Nail trimming is also an important part of hygiene. First, you must accustom your Belgian Shepherd to the care procedure from an early age. Then, with regularity, consistency, and patience, you teach the agile furry to stay still and be examined without resistance.
Diet for The Belgian Shepherd
A balanced diet is just as important for your dog’s health as proper care. But what is the best food for Belgian Shepherds? Unfortunately, this question does not have a general answer for all the furry of this breed. They indeed share the same complexion, but their energy needs can vary greatly depending on their age, weight, and degree of activity. Therefore, when choosing the correct food, you must consider the individual qualities of your quadruped. For example, a puppy needs a different feed than a senior dog and an active working dog a different feed than a family dog.
Meat should be the main protein source for the dog to have a healthy development. You can give him some more exotic meat such as ostrich, kangaroo, or water buffalo to prevent allergies.
Another important component of the diet is vegetables and fruit that provide your furry with important vitamins and nutrients. You should avoid fruit that is too sweet or contains too many carbohydrates, as well as an excess of cereals. Sugar and other sweeteners have not lost anything in your dog’s feeder. Spicy food and other food scraps are also not suitable. If you want to give your sheepdog joy, you can give him a snack or, even better, take him for a walk in nature so that he can satisfy his desire for movement.
Ownership and education
Getting plenty of exercise positively affects your dog’s weight and serves as entertainment for the mind and body. Belgian Shepherds are demanding and need more outings and entertainment than other dogs. Daily walks around your neighborhood are not enough at all. In the case of sheepdogs, which work as service dogs for police, customs, personal security, or as herding and working dogs, the physical and mental challenge is often self-evident.
Therefore, sport is a vital necessity for the Belgian Shepherd. You can see representatives of the breed in almost every dog sport achieving great success in competitions over and over again. His great desire to work and his intelligence, as well as his outstanding physical constitution, his speed, agility, and strength, meaning that almost no other dog can compete with him in dog sports. His great jumping ability is awe-inspiring. A Belgian Shepherd can overcome a vertical wall of 2.50 meters without problems.
It goes without saying that such sporty and temperamental dogs must be in the hands of an active and experienced keeper. To have a Belgian shepherd dog, you must have a lot of desire and time to entertain yourself with your furry one. Dogs that are physically and mentally satisfied are, in addition to being happier and healthier, more receptive to obedience and education. Lack of training can lead to dangerous behavior problems, especially with this breed, which has a certain basic acuity.
Along with many outings and entertainment, these dogs also need consistent education and early socialization to adapt as family dogs. Here it should be remembered that the dogs of this breed have a compassionate nature and that, in addition to consequence, they need affection, tranquility, and calm.
Excessive severity confuses them and does not lead to the desired educational success. They enjoy affection and caresses as much as they enjoy joint activities. Dogs that receive sufficient physical and mental stimulation prove to be calm and balanced at home and are loyal companions who will give you many years of joy.